A man apparently with ties to Helena faces four felonies and a misdemeanor in state District Court in Havre stemming from charges he had 267 prescription pain pills and marijuana in his possession when a drug task force agent questioned him during a traffic stop on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
The Hill County Attorney’s Office has filed against Richard W. Vanzant III three felony charges of intent to distribute drugs charges, one for each type of the painkiller oxycodone reported to be found in his possession. Vanzant also faces a felony count of possession of property subject to forfeiture, a 1978 Pontiac and $1,400 in cash, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.
A charging document says an investigating agent suspects Vanzant of having ties with a gang.
Vanzant’s age and residency were not available by printing deadline this morning.
He is scheduled to appear for arraignment Nov. 27, and was being held in the Hill County Detention Center this morning on $50,000 bond.
According to the document, a Rock Boy police officer contacted a Tri-Agency Safe Trails Task Force Agent Nov. 6 to report a tip that a man was selling prescription drugs at a Box Elder bar.
The next day, the officer told the agent the vehicle described in the tip had been stopped for a traffic violation on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. He said the driver was Vanzant, who is not a member of Rocky Boy’s Chippewa Cree Tribe or any other Native American tribe.
The officer said Vanzant had granted permission to search his vehicle, a 1978 Pontiac Grand Prix, and the officer found a large amount of cash and detected the smell of marijuana.
Two Task Force agents went to the location of the traffic stop and questioned Vanzant, the document says.
Vanzant told an agent initially that he did not live in Helena, then said he did, and said he receives mail in Helena, the document says.
An agent told Vanzant he was being detained while a dog trained to detect narcotics was brought to the scene. Vanzant said he smoked marijuana in the car and the dog might detect that. He first said he had had a prescription for medication, but it was a long time ago and there were no medications in the car. He then said after further questioning he did have his pills in the car, the document says.
The narcotics dog alerted to the odor of narcotics from the car, and Vanzant agreed to let the agents search the car, the document says. He told the agents that he was prescribed some pills, “the pain ones, the 30s … codones,” the document says.
When the agent searched the car he found a small amount of what resembled marijuana and, hidden farther up the dash, an old prescription medication bottle. The document says the agent could not read on the old, discolored label for what medication or for whom the prescription was written.
The agent identified the tablets inside as three kinds of oxycodone totalling 267 pills, the document says. The officer who made the traffic stop found $1,431 in the vehicle.
After obtaining a search warrant Nov. 7, the agent searched an iPhone seized from Vanzant and found text messages regarding Vanzant buying marijuana for people, as well as photos of a prescription of oxycodone painkiller tablets, the document says.
The phone also contained photographs of Vanzant in locations identified as on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, including photographs of his standing in front of a wall with the graffiti “CK 187,” which the agent believed to refer to “Crip Killer” and the California penal code for murder, 187. In one of those photographs Vanzant was holding his hand in the shape of a gun, the document says.
The apparent reference to the California gang the Crips led the officer to believe Vanzant is associated with a gang, the document says.